Until 1542, Oxford was in the diocese of Lincoln, but in that year the diocese of Oxford was created, and Robert King, the Abbot of Osney became the first bishop of Oxford. The church of Osney Abbey acted as his cathedral church until 1545, when the bishop’s throne (cathedra) was carried to St Frideswide’s Church.
Henry VIII designated St Frideswide’s Church as both Christ Church Cathedral of the new Henrician diocese of Oxford, and as the chapel of his new college, Christ Church. Although it used to be the smallest cathedral in the country, it today has the largest diocese, covering the three counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire. It comprises more than 600 parishes and over 800 churches.
John Pritchard has been Bishop of Oxford since 14 June 2007. He had 40 predecessors (excluding Thomas Goldwell, who died before he was installed, and Timothy Hall, who was denied installation by the chapter of Christ Church).
Until the twentieth century, the Bishop of Oxford held the position for life (unless he was promoted to an archbishopric or moved to another see). Nowadays bishops have to retire on reaching the age of 70.
Left: The Arms of the See of Oxford:
Sable a fesse argent between in chief three demi-virgins crowned and vested proper, in base an ox argent in a ford barry wavy azure and argent